Enjoy this delicious homemade black currant jam spread on toast, scones, ice cream, hot buttered rolls, pancakes, waffles, grilled meats, meatballs or used in muffins, tarts, cakes, pastries and more! You can even add some of it to your barbecue sauce – yum!
Whether you’re making black currant jam or a delicious fruity sauce to serve with roast duck, black currants have such a unique and distinctive flavor that their flavor is immediately recognizable. Not only are they delicious, they’re very high in good stuff like vitamin C and polyphenol phytochemicals.
WHAT ARE BLACK CURRANTS?
Native to Europe and Asia, black currants remain popular throughout those continents but are unfortunately almost completely unknown in the U.S.. Though that wasn’t always the case. They were popular in the early days of the American colonies and through the 19th century until they were banned for nearly a century for being the vector of something called “white pine blister rust” that threatened the U.S. logging industry. That ban has been lifted in most states and in the last 15 years black currants have very sloooowly started making a comeback in some states (meaning a tiny handful of people now know what they are).
I was already acquainted with blackcurrants from having grown up in Germany but it wasn’t until I moved to England that I really became acquainted with them. It seemed aisle after aisle at the grocery store were products flavored with blackcurrant; everything from jams, jellies, juices, sodas, candies, pastries, cheeses and more. And of course there are the ubiquitous dried black currants that have been used for eons in British baking as in this Traditional Spotted Dick, Eccles Cakes, Welsh Cakes Barmbrack and Mincemeat.
Very popular in England and Germany where I grew up and throughout Western Europe, it was a shock when I moved to the U.S. and couldn’t find them anywhere – along with red currants and gooseberries – nor had most Americans I met even heard of them let alone tried them. The solution: Grow my own! And grow our own we did. Every year now we harvest fresh blackcurrants, red currants and gooseberries. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
On a separate note, dried currants are also virtually impossible to find in the U.S. (even online – and what are called “zante currants” are just small raisins), I’ve had to bring them back with us on our trips to England and on our jaunts up Victoria BC. Having reaped a bountiful harvest of black currants this year I will be dehydrating some of them to make my own dried currants.
WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO USE BLACK CURRANT JAM?
Enjoy this lovely jam on:
- Buttered rolls
- Ice cream
- Grilled/roasted duck, game or seafood
- Cookie bars
- Rice puddings
- British puddings
- …even mixed in your barbecue sauce for your grilled meats!
Let’s get started!
Wash the berries and remove the stems and dried tips. Place the black currants in a medium stock pot along with the water.
Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries are softened.
Add the sugar and lemon juice.
Simmer until the temperature registers 220 degrees F. (I use an instant read thermometer.)
If the berries are too large you can use a potato masher to mash them.
If you’re going to use the jam within a few months, pour the jam into sterilized jars and once cool store in the fridge.
For long-term storage:
In most places outside the U.S. the water bath canning method is unknown. Usually the hot jam is simply poured into sterilized jars and sealed. However, if you would like to use the water bath canning method proceed as follows: Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars, wipe the rims of the jars and screw on the lids. Process the jars in a water bath canner (5 minutes for half pints, 10 minutes for pints and quarts). Carefully remove the jars and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours before removing the rims and storing them in a dark cool place to store.
Properly canned the jam will keep for at least a year.
Otherwise store in the fridge where it will keep for a few months.
Black Currant Jam
- 4 cups (500g) fresh or frozen black currants , washed, stemmed and dried tips removed
- 1 1/2 cups (360ml) water
- 4 cups cane sugar (black currants are more acidic and less sweet than other berries but you can use less sugar if preferred)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Place the black currants in a medium stock pot along with the water. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries are softened. Add the sugar and lemon juice and simmer until the temperature registers 220 degrees F. (I use an instant read thermometer.)
- If you're going to use the jam within a few months, pour the jam into sterilized jars and once cool store in the fridge.For long-term storage you can use the water bath canning method: Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars, wipe the rims of the jars and screw on the lids. Process the jars in a water bath canner (5 minutes for half pints, 10 minutes for pints and quarts). Carefully remove the jars and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours before removing the rims and storing them in a dark cool place to store. Makes about 3 pints.